Notes on looking isn't dead

Notes on Looking is a creative writing platform for the Los Angeles art community.

Read More

Most recent notes on looking…

Brody Albert and Kaeleen Wescoat-O’Neill: OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

I had nearly just touched the red gate to open it, when Chris jumped out from behind the wall to tell me it’s not to be touched no matter how inviting it may seem. We talked to one another from opposite ends through the matching collapsible gates, an empty space between us. Not knowing if I was going to be invited to his side of the gallery or if this was it, I began to think about my parking situation from earlier. I wonder if I have a ticket right now. I didn’t think I needed a permit during the day as long as I moved my car before two. I’m pretty sure I had two hours; or is that still only if I have a permit? Does it mean something different because that part of the sign was green? The car in front of mine didn’t have a permit in its window, but did that sticker on its back bumper mean anything? They had obviously been parked there awhile, so I think I’m good for at least another hour. But what if we both get tickets? Wait, is it Wednesday? What happens when the part that unites two sides is removed, when the middle is taken away? I often only eat the center of bread, leaving the crust. I’m not much into the head or tail of a fish, and most anyone would choose the window or aisle seat while flying on a plane. The middle child is passed over. The center of the week feels daunting. Intermission in a concert can be a good or bad thing... read more

Sandeep Mukherjee: Mutual Entanglements

As I sat staring at the pattern on the back of the seat in front of me during a three-hour flight from Houston to Los Angeles, I contemplated Sandeep Mukherjee’s impressive painting installation, Mutual Entanglements, at Chimento Contemporary, the last art exhibition I saw before leaving on a four-day trip to Florida to visit my family. I was without a book or a pen during the flight; all I had was the back of the seat and my mind’s wanderings. Bus, train, and plane upholstery share common features. They are designed in hideous patterns in order to complicate the eye’s perception, disallowing the passenger to recognize the dirt and grime built up over months and years of excessive use. Often multi-colored grids or complicated crossed eye-inducing patterns, public transportation seat fabric pushes the viewer’s gaze out as it holds everything in. Mukherjees’s paintings are not hideous. They are physical, finely tuned palimpsests of dignified expression. Imagine a landscape pulled apart, ripped and torn, piled up and spread flat. Ten large panels cover two adjacent walls, forming a wide V with a Serra-like effect that dwarfs the viewer and echoes the massive weight of steel from afar. I am pulled forward. Gradually, the heaviness dissipates; the thin, errant edges and misaligned contours of the individual panels reveal their independence while holding onto solidarity through color and a general schema. The deceptively thin material provides a sturdy enough surface for the rigorous but gracefully applied array of mixed media resting on top of one another. Melded markings, mulch, foliage too thick to traverse—one must find another access point. I remember sitting... read more

Dominic Quagliozzi: Poems

Part A (2006) Middle ground obscurity Faceless outside of the crowd. Disabled to the point of acceptance Accepted to the point of disability. Juggling seasons of unrest with excitement of discovery is too lofty for any man. Real world expectations to death I am one man within two. Remind me which one you know.   Part B (2015) The welcome of a hero Isolation was the most crowded affair. This mighty end to the Mighty struggle met with a gracious and accepting host. A continuation through an end, the unconscionable excitement too lofty for any man. Strangers welcomed within as the party of life rages on I am one man, containing two. Remind me which one you... read more

“But all I can see is Red, red, red, red, red now What am I gonna do” : William Kaminski’s Haunted Heck

What is sleep you ask, what is dream I ask, what is real you reply. Being scared makes you freeze, makes your body shut, having fear means there’s an action to be taken, fear is a bravery you need to work through. I was reminded that there is also terror, terror makes fear breakable, terror shakes you to the core of your being and never leaves you be. We were the first in line for the second night of LIVE THRU THIS KURT COBAIN HAUNTED HECK. We decided to enter sober. Standing in front of the red corridor, you asked me to hold your hand. I said I would never let go. I reassured myself. It would be too obvious for a ghost to enter a haunted house; they have more fun inside our beds. I was wrong. We smiled at the tiara-wearing girl (Hole – Live Through This) in the entrance and walked in. I asked you if you want to be in front of me or behind me; you moved to my front, taking my arms above your shoulders and crossing them over your heart. Your upper back was on my chest, my chin was above your head; walking with spread legs, I realized I couldn’t protect you even if I wanted to. Passing through the first room where Kurt was sitting on a toilet making sick noises, we had to almost touch him in order to maneuver our now-one-body through the room, startled by our reflection in the bathroom mirror. We entered into Courtney’s closet – she came out of the rack and started shouting, you... read more

Jay Erker: Living Together

This doesn’t mean as much as you might think; or it could mean a lot, if you want it to. It’s been awhile since I have written anything so I really have to bite into this one. Literally. I bit into the wall of Jay Erker’s show. I left my bottom teeth marks on the outside of a small window cut-out and the impression of my top teeth on the inside. I could sense what she wanted: for me to not be afraid of doing what I felt like doing. I shouldn’t be uncomfortable, or feel like I didn’t belong. Therefore, there was no reason to act accordingly, as in the way I felt I needed to act at the previous four galleries I had visited earlier that day. I sank my teeth into the wall where images had been sketched by the artist and other patrons who attended the opening. I was surprised by the near lack of bathroom humor; given the artist’s anarchistic and gratifyingly crude behavior. There was some though. The other opening is a dick fest, someone scribbled confidently. Eat Pray Love, wrote another. The latter was less offensive, but perhaps that’s because I haven’t seen the end of the movie and sadly I’ve been to plenty of dick fests. Moments after sitting down with Jay, with her magnetic disposition and a demeanor that fluctuates between extremely serious and socially-conscious and carefree, articulate and bad ass (I am not sure if those are even opposites), we were drinking whiskey and talking inconclusively about community in relation to our art practices. She is studying to become... read more

The Rational Dress Society presents: JUMPSUIT, a manifesto

The Rational Dress Society presents: JUMPSUIT, a manifesto We, the members of the Rational Dress Society, propose JUMPSUIT: a single, multi-use garment to replace all clothes in perpetuity. We suggest that the rejection of choice (otherwise defined as the yoke of relentless consumption within the capitalist paradigm) might open us up to new possibilities and better ways of living. What if you never had to pick out an outfit again? In the nineteenth century, apparel production was standardized and ready-to-wear clothes were produced in greater quantities. For the first time, people were able to conceive of fashion as a site of mass social intervention. The feminist dress reform movement of the 1850’s marks the beginning of modern counter-fashion. The Victorian crinoline and corset were heavy, binding garments that limited mobility. Feminist reformers believed that fashion was a conspiracy to render women physically dependent on men by restricting their movements, thereby cultivating a slave mentality. Women like Susan B. Anthony and Amelia Bloomer were among the first to envision a model of clothing that would bridge the gap between the sexes. Fifty years after the debut of the Bloomer, women began to wear pants in larger numbers. The 20th century offers many examples of avant-garde and utopian experiments in dress, from the Tuta of the Italian Futurists, to the collectivist garments of the early kibbutz movement. In 1971, the clothing retailer Nordstrom went public, marking the beginning of a new era in the fashion industry. The neoliberal economic policies of the 1970s and 1980s led to significant changes in the garment industry and the emerging dominance of global fashion conglomerates. The... read more

Record. Collect. Compose. A series of human decisions

When making art with machines and technical processes, no matter what technique we use, every work begins with human need and desire. There 
is a tendency to believe that machines distance us, make us less ourselves, that they alienate us, but what we forget is that all machines are made by humans. Every object used in the process of making art is forged from human culture. You could go so far as to say that there is nothing more human than the machines we use to deepen our understanding of the world. With photography as my point of departure, my goal here is consider many forms of technical media in the most human of terms. What are the human actions involved that underpin the desire to create an indexical representation of the world? The actions I’ve chosen are RECORD, COLLECT and COMPOSE. RECORD is a surrogate for memory. It’s the impulse to keep track and our awareness of time’s passage. COLLECT is the human need to gather and categorize, to see similarities and differences. COMPOSE is seeing a slice of the world. It is choosing what to put in and what to leave out. These actions unite a diverse group of artists working in different media, whose pieces reveal a desire to create transformed representations of real world places and things. On the following pages I’ve asked each artist two questions. These questions are intentionally conversational and many of them are the result of our studio visits. MK. Is there a succinct way you might explain how a photograph transforms the world it depicts? How does that affect how... read more

Searching for Home / Leaving Yourself Behind

Our noses fill with dust. We enter the curvilinear sanctum where this immaterial soil hovers between thousands of individually labored slabs of adobe that fill a perimeter over which our eyes trace, failing to find a point to rest. The thick surface smothers the noises spawned from within, echoes have no place here. It is a space of penetrating sounds that go no farther than the moment they are contained by. S. He makes an altar out of the humble precious material. His body sublimates the space with movement that transcends affiliation. His arms fling beyond code, his back arches, stretching past the limits of his skin. From the top of his roughhewn pedestal he topples another’s sacred idol. P. His body snakes between us. Bound in stockings, a fine mesh is all that protects him from the elements, he becomes part of the dry dirt, inhaling it deeply. It covers the floor in a soft brown layer that filters through and becomes a poultice on his skin. He clings to the walls, audibly popping his delicate casement along the straws and pebbles of the adobe bricks. The walls offer protection as much as they contain us, just as walls do. Just as he anoints them with dots of blood, they reciprocate and anoint him with their matter, both are transubstantiated, two bodies becoming one, stained with the same blood, sweat, tears, and clay. It is a mother, he is an earth. He searches through us for her. Sliding between, swiping us with his unction, making us wholly aware that to step out of his way is to avoid... read more